Arlington Redevelopment Board - Mar 20th, 2017
Special Town Meeting Article 1. This article proposes to change the definition of usable open space in certain cases.
STM Article 1 comes out from the residential study group. Pit driveways were a big concern at last year's town meeting. The RSG would like to provide incentives, which encourage developers to use other driveway configurations. They propose changing the minimum dimension for usable open space from 25' to 20'; this would not change any of the ZBL's setback requirements, nor would it change the requirement to have 30% usable open space. It only changes how the 30% usable open space can be configured.
Most garage-unders have two tandem parking spaces, but people don't park two cars there. Instead, the garage is used for storage, and people park at least one car in the driveway. Garages don't count toward gross floor area (and therefore, don't add to usable open space requirements). Having two garage spaces effectively allows a larger building. The RSG hopes that developers will opt for putting the garage at the surface level. STM article 1 is tied to town meeting article 8, which reduces residential parking requirements from two spaces to one space.
ATM article 8 and STM article 1 need to go together. What if one of the articles doesn't pass? We'd likely have to substitute no action for the other article.
There's concern about people parking outside, rather than parking in the garage. This already happens. New houses are required to have two parking spaces, but there's no law saying that cars have to be parked in the garage. In practice, people commonly use the garage for storage, and park in their driveways.
There's talk about the safety issues posed by steep downslope driveways, and concern that some of the same safety issues are posed by steep upslope driveways, but the proposed bylaw changes only address downslope driveways.
STM article 1 would apply only to new construction; not to existing houses. Owners of newly-built houses that fall under these changes would have to realize that there's less parking available.
These bylaws would apply to residential districts R0, R1, and R2.
There's concern about potential loss of permeable surfaces, and how the changes might affect small lots.
Where does the 15% slope come from? The 15% slope limit comes from several sources, like MassDOT recommendations, and from our town engineer.
There's concern that some new development already puts parking at grade, and we're giving incentives to developers that don't need it.
The ARB decides to leave public comment open for a week. They'll vote on March 27th.
STM Article 2: Temporary Moratorium on Recreational Marijuana Establishments. This article intends to give the town more time to consider information about recreational marijuana sales, before allowing establishments that sell marijuana for recreational use. The moratorium would last until March 2018. The time period matches a similar moratorium passed by West Bridgewater. Really, we're waiting for the state to finalize recreational marijuana legislation.
What are we expecting the state to regulate, and how would the state regulations affect citing requirements? There are many non-zoning aspects to recreational marijuana sales. The state has provided little to no guidance in this area.
A commenter states that marijuana was considered a dangerous drug in the 1960's. 60% of Arlington residents voted in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. He's concerned that the state will try to thwart recreational use, even though people voted for it. A delay won't prevent recreational marijuana from being sold; it will simply continue to make it illegal. People who buy and sell will be breaking the law, and they'll be prosecuted. Under current laws, possession is legal, and recreational use is legal -- but buying and selling for recreational use is not.
The ARB has not received any guidance from the Board of Selectmen on this article.
The ARB will continue this article's hearing until March 27th.
Article 6: Mixed use in business and industrial zones. This article remove the minimum lot area/unit requirement for mixed use development.
The ARB received no comments since the last hearing.
This article was endorsed by the master plan implementation committee.
ARB recommends favorable action on Article 6.
Article 7: Artisinal Fabrication. This article would remove the 5000 square foot limit on artisinal fabrication facilities.
The ARB received no public comments since last week.
There's concern about unintended consequences, from not having a maximum square footage. Arlington is already so dense, that density has a limiting effect on size. Eliminating the maximum size might help bring new businesses into the town.
ARB recommends favorable action on Article 7.
Article 8: Residential driveway parking changes. This article proposes a limit of 15\% downward slope on residential driveways. Several aspects of this article came up during the discussion of STM Article 1. Article 8 would apply to all residential lots, not just new construction. This article also comes from the residential study group.
There's concern that Article 8 might lead to larger houses, and higher lot coverage.
ARB recommends favorable action on Article 8.
Article 9: Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Buffer Zones. The proponent's goal is to restore 500-foot buffer zone that the state took away. Medical marijuana facilities have to operate with cash, and she believes this will make them hot spots for crime.
The debate around this issue has lost sight that we're talking about medical use, and patients with prescriptions.
There's concern that we've already put a lot of restrictions on these facilities, and a 500-foot buffer zone would push them out of the town entirely. The ARB would rather see a group study diversion, etc. Zoning is not the only thing which affects diversion.
In 2014, the 500-foot buffer zone was assumed to be part of the territory. Could be worth another look, since that's no longer part of the territory.
Buffer zones create a stigma around these facilities, and around the use of medical marijuana.
There's a belief that this article is about eliminating medical marijuana from the town. It's not just about establishing a buffer zone.
ARB recommends no action on Article 9.